2010 Mazda RX-8 R3 new car reviews

Better than: Hyundai Genesis
But not as good as: Nissan 370Z
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 83.20

The Mazda RX-8 R3 is a nice, solid performer. It handles great and is a good on-track partner when the revs are up and the rotary is humming along. That said, it's an odd mix of love-it-or-hate-it styling, an almost-practical layout, and abysmal gas mileage.

With a world-class suspension and a fun, rev-happy rotary engine, it's great for autocross and track use. The fat, low-profile tires, 19-inch rims and Bilstein shocks make quick work of switchbacks and hairpin turns. The R3 package adds a sport-tuned suspension and the aforementioned Bilstein shock absorbers—these make the ride a little choppy over expansion joints, but they do help the car's handling

The layout of the car, with its small, front-opening rear doors, seems practical, but the rear roofline makes the trunk opening impossibly small. On a recent business trip, we had to stow our small suitcases in the rear seat as they simply wouldn't fit through the mail slot of a trunk.

The EPA fuel economy estimates are a dismal 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. We returned 15.1 mpg on a series of recent fill-ups with this car. That's really what brings the car's daily driving score down in our books.

The RX-8 has been nearly awesome since its debut in 2002, and we love the basic concept. Even so, we're ready for a new coupe from Mazda.

Other staff views

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

I spent the weekend with this RX-8 and loved it. There are plenty of cars that are faster or better looking, but few if any deliver the wonderful tactile feel of this Mazda. The seats are great, the interior upscale and the half-doors pretty darn handy. My daily driver is a E36 M3, and this RX-8 is the first car in a long time that I enjoyed nearly as much as the BMW. I was completely in love--until I had to fill the tank.

My 10-year-old BMW gets a mixed 24 mpg under enthusiastic use. With my heavy foot I got around 15 with the Mazda. Fifteen miles per gallon drinking premium gas just kills this car for me. It's really a shame, because the driving experience is so wonderful. Sure, you can buy one on the cheap these days, and you can justify the guzzling by adding up all the pennies you saved by buying the RX-8 at a discount.

You might even be able to convince yourself that you're coming out ahead in the long run when it comes to money. This still won't take the sting out of fueling up this thing with $5.00 per gallon gas. A large part of the annoyance with gas prices is perceived. Sure, an extra buck might not really make a difference in your day to day budget, but constantly watching your money drain away at the gas pump sure can put you in a bad mood.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

I know, I know, gas is expensive and this car likes to drink it, but it still had me at hello. Sure, it's not the fastest thing out there, either, but I loved the entire package--it's all the goodness found in a Miata in a little more "mature," balanced package. Great shifter, great pedals, great seating position. I even love the color.

Tom Heath Tom Heath
UberDork

Despite the glorious interior and quirky charm, I couldn't fall in love with the RX-8 enough to really want one. It's not like I hated the car, but I prefer the driving experience of something a bit more explosive. You have to be on a closed course to really exploit the car's potential. The RX-8 pricepoint and day-to-day operating costs would make me look awfully hard at a Mazdaspeed 3 instead.

Scott Lear Scott Lear

It's too bad gas is so damned expensive, I had no idea that the RX-8 was such a delightful driver's car until this one turned up. I still think I'd prefer an S2000, but it's a closer call that I would have ever though, and if we didn't live in sunny Florida the hardtop might edge me even further towards the RX-8.

Per Schroeder Per Schroeder
PowerDork

The RX8 is another one of my "almost perfect cars" It's a great engine, drivetrain and suspension in a rather funky shell. I'd love to see a new normally aspirated RX7 with 2 door, instead of this funky/nearly useless 4-door format. And would it kill them to make the car at least get 20mpg City? Aside from that, nearly the perfect tool for B Stock autocross use.

Daily driver manners penalized for gas suckage.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
JohnGalt
JohnGalt Reader
6/10/08 5:53 p.m.

I bought a used 05 model back in 07 from a private seller. Car had 10K miles and i got it for 17,900. These cars have very bad depreciation so good examples can be had "relatively" cheep. The car is simply the finest driving car i have ever driven. more than being just a fast car it is a fun car that tells you exactly what is going on. Faster cars like Z's and stangs can be had for near the same money but i have never had an instance where my rx8 needed to be any faster than it is. The only down side to these cars is the gas millage. I get 20-21 with about 60-40 highway city driving. The side doors are dead useful and you can fit real people in the back seats. I drive mine every day and have put 17000K on it and in that time have had no problems.

Javelin
Javelin MegaDork
6/28/08 10:17 a.m.

I love the RX-8! While I am not an owner, I have had the occasion to drive a few, and even compete against some. The 8 was the car I was shopping for when the P71 popped up, and sometimes I still regret the decision (until I realize I have the P71 AND the RX-7 for LESS then the down payment on an RX-8!).

The RX-8 is the true successor to the original RX-7 idea. An affordable, tossable car for the masses. It's useful in everyday life, tactile, and just puts a big stupid grin on your face every time you drive it. I would still be proud to own one!

Per Schroeder
Per Schroeder PowerDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

The Mazda RX-8 R3 is a nice, solid performer. It handles great and is a good on-track partner when the revs are up and the rotary is humming along. That said, it's an odd mix of love-it-or-hate-it styling, an almost-practical layout, and abysmal gas mileage.

With a world-class suspension and a fun, rev-happy rotary engine, it's great for autocross and track use. The fat, low-profile tires, 19-inch rims and Bilstein shocks make quick work of switchbacks and hairpin turns. The R3 package adds a sport-tuned suspension and the aforementioned Bilstein shock absorbers—these make the ride a little choppy over expansion joints, but they do help the car's handling

The layout of the car, with its small, front-opening rear doors, seems practical, but the rear roofline makes the trunk opening impossibly small. On a recent business trip, we had to stow our small suitcases in the rear seat as they simply wouldn't fit through the mail slot of a trunk.

The EPA fuel economy estimates are a dismal 16 mpg in the city and 22 on the highway. We returned 15.1 mpg on a series of recent fill-ups with this car. That's really what brings the car's daily driving score down in our books.

The RX-8 has been nearly awesome since its debut in 2002, and we love the basic concept. Even so, we're ready for a new coupe from Mazda.

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